Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Thursday, November 1, 2012

You breathed my name into the air
I never knew I existed until then

by Trina Tan

Maybe we exist only in exhalations maybe
there is no us. Maybe we are six billion people
surviving on the voices of (six minus one) billion people
each of our breaths a consequence of
someone else uttering our names in stories of
sometime adventures. There is no gravity we exist in a flux
of cause and effect. Suspended in the middle of cotton quilt
and stone graphite we are always reaching towards the red-hot baton of
another’s sorrows, they say warm air rises and we are not cold. Our names
condense in the winter and crystallize into signboards of love the way
angels clothe themselves in air, navigating us into one another’s arms. (Today
I met a man who pinched nail-deep into his elbow every ten minutes
to stop the pain and I imagined that
no one had uttered his name in a long time.) I thought maybe
this is why poets say they are immortal maybe
God is powerful simply because so many people have uttered His name
since time immemorial maybe
the moments I felt I could not breathe was the result of someone
censoring my name from the screening of a filmstrip memory. There is only
a world whose song is a recurrence relation of an infinite number of names
articulated in a finite number of breaths. We die the moment
our names are said for the last time, our souls finding
a deficit of memory and there is little choice but to default upon
bankruptcy. There is no life or death no rich or poor        only
the number of breaths we have conquered        only
the melody of our names on
each other’s lips.

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